Chadwick Boseman as King T'Challa in Black Panther. Iconic.
Friday brought the devastating news that Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman had passed away and to say the world was shocked is an understatement. The tweet from his account announcing his tragic death has become the most liked and retweeted missive in the history of Twitter.
The world mourns a hero
The reasons this news is so abhorrent is manifold. Chad had been diagnosed with colon cancer back in 2016 but he had decided to keep it from the public. Back in June this year he posted a video where he looked underweight and people were quick to make comments of course, some cruel, the majority concerned.
What nobody knew was that he was battling behind closed doors and even filming projects in between his treatments. The grace and strength he exhibited in private only makes his passing more painful when so many stars display their lives (and deaths) out in public.
Boseman at Black Panther premiere
Boseman made his name choosing projects that weren’t stereotypical and elevated his craft. With roles such as Jackie Robinson in 2013 who was the first African American pro baseball player in the Major Baseball League. The next year he portrayed music legend James Brown in the much lauded movie Get On Up.
Boseman then came to the international stage with the epic Marvel Universe movie, Black Panther. A role he originated in Captain America: Civil War and then twice in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. The cultural significance of the movie cannot be downplayed, breaking box office records left right and centre but also proving once and for all that, of course, an African American led movie can indeed be profitable.
The commonly held myth of (predominantly white and male) studio execs that movies fronted by women had already been debunked with the enormous success of Wonder Woman, but here was a movie with a predominantly black cast, a black director smashing it’s way to well over 1.3 billion dollars worldwide
Chad looked good in and out of costume
With Black Panther, Chadwick became a household name and showed young black kids that they could be kings, queens and even superheroes. His death has come at a time of great sadness and unrest in America, so much so that there are reports of some parents not even wanting to tell their kids of the actor’s death, so closely do the associate him with the character of King T’Challa.
Gone too soon
The director of Black Panther has written an emotional and powerful piece that says more than we could ever say. He himself didn’t know or even realise that Chadwick had been sick and battling cancer the entire time he knew him, never mentioning it and keeping his own council. Indeed, Boseman filmed and produced against the clock crime thriller 21 Bridges in between chemotherapy treatments.
It’s too early to be questioning how the Black Panther franchise will continue and there are already calls not to re-cast the role. Superhero’s alias’ change all the time so it will no doubt be circumvented respectfully but whoever takes over will have some seriously big shoes to fill.